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Act Clearly Knowing.

Charlotte shares two points of reflection from the silent retreat, both on challenging autopilot through presence and curiosity.

Act Clearly Knowing.

Last week I returned from a silent retreat.  I was a participant and it was wonderful – the deep rest, the inspiration, the meditations – and I was introduced to Biodanza which I am now in love with.  I hope you have seen notice of our wonderful retreat at Blueys Beach in November. I cannot recommend this reset, re-inspiration, and rejuvenation enough.  And it is such a beautiful spot, even the Dalai Lama has visited!

I would like to share two points of reflection from the silent retreat, both of them about challenging autopilot through presence and curiosity.

One was a term I had not heard before – “Act Clearly Knowing”.   The idea is simple, your attention is with what you are doing, or engaging in, your mind is where your feet are.   It is of course part of mindfulness but sometimes good with a prompt to reengage with this practice. I have been honing in on this ever since, and am discovering the calm, presence and satisfaction that it brings.

I have always tended to be messy. Partly that is because I start many projects.  Another reason is that I fill my days with too much and then just leave things as I feel in a hurry or needing to do the next thing.  So, this has been challenging! I can proudly say I now have a very tidy wardrobe, bedroom and bathroom, and it has been that way consistently over the last two weeks.  I can almost sense self-righteousness sneaking up on me!

Of course, it is also about just being one with a conversation or with drinking tea, being one with working, one with walking, one with dancing etc.  “Act Clearly Knowing” is present monotasking.  

The other reflection is similar but with an emphasis on the “clearly knowing”, perhaps it should be termed: “Speak Clearly Knowing”.  The meaning is paying attention to what we say, whether what we say is true or well informed, whether it is kind, whether it is inclusive or divisive.

This reflection point actually emerged on the way to the retreat.  My son had recommended an interview Joe Rogan did with Robert Kennedy Jr.  

I had heard a couple of snippets from Kennedy and mentioned him at a dinner party where he was dismissed by other guests as a loose cannon and raging antivaxxer. I had also heard Joe Rogan described as a primitive gun loving misogynist.   Hence it took me a little while to turn on the interview.

Neither description matched what I had heard as I listened to the three-hour long interview.  I was impressed by Rogan. While I have never heard any other interview by him, in this I could not fault him.  And Kennedy was impressive.  He has had a long career as an environmental lawyer and knows politics and the American system inside out.  I actually felt hope listening to his clarity.  Yet I might listen to another interview with Rogan or Kennedy and disagree with things they say.

It made me think about how often we “run with half a wind”.  We hear someone described in a particular way and rather than check it out for ourselves we believe that statement to be true.  And once someone has been categorised as Kennedy has, it becomes socially dangerous to show appreciation for the person.  The majority has spoken and the idea is that you must be a crazy if you don’t go along with them.  And I am aware that in divulging that I listened to these two men and did not find them to be madmen, I run the risk of being labelled a right-wing anti-feminist or something like that. 

Buddhism offers two relevant insights on this. The first is restraining from harmful speech (and harmful includes the uninformed or slanderous) and not repeating something that we really haven’t experienced ourselves.  The other point is not to believe everything you hear, even when it is from an authority.

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. 

Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumoured by many. 

Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. 

Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. 

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
Buddha quotes (Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.)

When I was a child, my parents would take me to anti-smoking meetings and rallies.  They were part of the push in the seventies to have passive smoking banned.  I remember all the propaganda from the smoking lobby ridiculing and dismissing those who presented good evidence that passive smoking could lead to lung cancer.

You might have heard of Alice Mary Stewart who in 1955 warned about the danger of pregnant women being X-rayed. She was ridiculed and dismissed and it took another twenty years and thousands of babies developing leukaemia until her view was accepted.

One of the things that Kennedy mentions is the problem when a regulatory body is sponsored or dependent on the corporates that it is supposed to regulate when they are intertwined.  What is given a green light is then no longer what is best for the people, rather it is too often determined by financial interests.  

Of course, I have heard only one interview so all I can say is that in that interview he impressed me as a decent, bright human who wants the best for the many.  This may not be the last interview I listen to with him, and don’t believe my opinion, find your own!  

But let’s be curious and let’s be more critical about labels that are placed on humans, let’s personally investigate before we pass judgment.    

This is all very relevant right now when it comes to The Voice, the issue seems so muddied.  So investigate and reflect yourself, and also consider the consequences of a ‘no’ answer.



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